the oa title sequence

Only One Title/Credit Sequence

Another way The OA is pushing the format of television series is that it only has a title/credit sequence once. Batmanglij says:

A big thing for us was, let’s just do the credits once. I love watching House of Cards. Let’s use House of Cards as an example. I actually like everytime when that music comes on and those credits come on, but it feels kind of funny, right? I don’t think I need the credits everytime I watch the show.

The opening title sequence is something invented out of broadcast television of the channel flipping days. The purpose of a credit sequence on shows created for the binge-watching crowd seems almost pointless to me, although I agree a great theme song can put you in the mood for what is about to come (for example, the Stranger Things credits sequence). But making this change wasn’t something that was easy. Batmanglij says that while Netflix supported them, the system pushed back hard.

It’s just an archaic thing that is just really hard to change. Even in The OA we had to follow Guild requirements and put directed by and the credits and I’m embarrassed to put my name every time, I mean, who cares: Look it up on the internet if you want to know who made it. And it was inspiring that [Netflix] were so supportive. It’s so rare. I can’t even explain to you how rare that is.

The OA title sequence comes 57 minutes into the hour-and-eleven-minute pilot as Marling’s Prairie Johnson begins to tell her chosen group her backstory. It honestly gave me chills the first time I saw it. Batmanglij admits that they didn’t even really plan for it, it just came organically.

It’s just how the story goes. I think Brit and I were just talking out the story and I was just like, ‘camera pushes in on French’s face and it’s the boy’s imagination of her story… Netflix presents’ and you know. My stomach dropped when I said that. I was just saying it on a lark and it’s been so great to see other people’s stomachs drop. What I didn’t expect was some people would be offended by that. That’s what has been so hilarious about this process.

Brit Marling in The OA

My Brief Thoughts on The OA Season One

We’ve talked a bit about the controversy over the ending of The OA’s first season, and you can read comments from Batmanglij and Marling at the linked story. Personally, I really loved the first season of The OA and as you can tell from this article, I think the series is doing some interesting things for the evolving medium of storytelling.

I also think it’s bringing a type of story to television that we’re more used to seeing at Sundance. I have told almost everyone I know that they must experience the first episode. I always follow up that recommendation with: “but you might not like it.” It’s certainly not a show for everyone, but I’m sure the people that do connect with it, like me, will end up holding it in high regard.

That said, I was a bit let down by the ending. Not that questions weren’t answered. I enjoy how Batmanglij and Marling make us question the reality of the story they have presented. I’ve followed the pair’s careers from their breakthrough Sundance year. I was a huge fan of their debut film Sound of My Voice, which shares some interesting elements with The OA. Batmanglij and Marling are great at world-building, and Sound of My Voice ends on a similar open-ended cliffhanger with the same kind of questions.

I also was not bothered by the school setting of the final sequence. I think the story had delved into themes of unhappiness and bullying enough to warrant this scene. My problem is that this last episode feels rushed in comparison to the rest of the series, which feels so very meticulously planned and executed. Which, yes, I know seems odd coming at the conclusion of an article all about how the show’s story determines the running time and not vice versa. To me, it felt like they needed more time in that last episode to conclude this story.

the oa

Moving Forward: The OA Season 2

Even though I found the finale to be disappointing, I’m still on board for a second season if Netflix decides to make one. And so I had to ask Zal if they had planned for the second season of this story before approaching the first.

I don’t like talking about a second season because its a little bit like putting a car before the horse — it’s only been two weeks. But I’ll tell you this, Brit and I would not have undertaken this project without having planned it meticulously long before we ever took it anywhere… again, capitalism. Capitalism says if you work in this long format medium, you just throw things to the wall and if something sticks and you get it greenlit, you better make a pilot and once that sticks, you better scramble to figure out how to make 8, 12 or 24 hours of a season. We did not approach it that way. We did not try to sell a pilot and figure it out, sell an idea and then figure it out afterward. I think that’s crucial. Brit and I figured out a story we wanted to tell, a story we thought had meaning and value. And I think that’s another thing that’s similar to a novel, is that we’re saying something in this piece. It’s not as much of a message as much as it’s a point of view, or a thesis. And that’s similar to a novel… and I think that’s also shaking people a bit. They don’t expect that from their binge viewing or one-hour drama.

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